Stade Rennais FC hope to welcome back Eduardo Camavinga as they look to rebound from back-to-back losses against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea with victory at Girondins de Bordeaux on Friday evening.
Camavinga, the 18-year-old midfield prodigy, has been missing since the end of October after suffering a concussion an hour into Rennes' 2-1 loss at home to Angers SCO. Top of the table until Round 6, the Bretons have stuttered in the youngster's absence, although a win would nonetheless take them second above LOSC, for 48 hours at least.
Running the gauntlet
Rennes lost back-to-back games before the recent international break - which Camavinga also missed - although there was no real shame in the 3-0 reverses against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League and then Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, the former side now boasting the Bretons' recent fan favourite goalkeeper Édouard Cissé.
Julien Stéphan rightly won plaudits for steering Rennes to third last season, and the 40-year-old tactician has remained philosophical in the face of defeat of late.
Watch: Highlights of Rennes' 3-0 loss to PSG
"They were more efficient, imaginative and intense," Stéphan said when asked to compare the PSG game to the Chelsea fixture which preceded it. "But we still have to make a lot of progress to be able to compete against these top teams. Even if these two games looked very different, the end result was the same and we have a lot to correct."
Camavinga will almost certainly be restored to the starting line-up if he passes a late fitness test, but defenders Daniele Rugani and Faitout Maouassa remain sidelined with thigh and ankle complaints respectively. Dalbert is suspended in the Champions League after a red card in London but available to fill in for the latter at left-back domestically.
History on their side?
Rennes will conclude the weekend in second if they win at the Stade Matmut Atlantique and Lille fail to take all three points against FC Lorient on Sunday night. Les Rouge et Noir can be hopeful of keeping up their end of that bargain, having not lost to Bordeaux since January 2016.
Bordeaux begin the day nine places and seven points worse off than their visitors, although their recent form has been identical to Rennes', with two defeats and one win from their last three games in all competitions.
Jean-Louis Gasset's side were beaten 2-0 by Montpellier Hérault SC last time out, and although one frustrated fan attempted to auction the starting XI online, the coach's reaction was rather more temperate.
Watch: Highlights of Bordeaux's 2-0 loss to Montpellier
"The priority is to keep our heads up, for the players to dig in. This is the least we can ask in this profession. Montpellier showed how it was done. It felt like we were up against 11 warriors. Michel Der Zakarian's been there for three years and put them in the European chase with a mid-table budget."
Central defensive shuffle
Bordeaux's only injury concern is Mexer, who is yet to overcome a thigh injury suffered at the start of the season, but with Gasset still wrestling with which two from Laurent Koscielny, Pablo and Paul Baysse constitute his first-choice central defence, the former Rennes man's return my not have been that welcome anyway.
Brazilian midfielder Otavio is one yellow card away from a suspension, but will almost certainly anchor the midfield alongside Toma Basic as Bordeaux look to contain what remains Ligue 1 Uber Eats second-most prolific attack.
Bordeaux: Costil; Sabaly, Baysse, Koscielny, Benito; Basic, Otavio; Hwang, De Préville, Oudin; Maja
Rennes: Gomis; Traoré, Da Silva, Aguerd, Dalbert; Nzonzi; Camavinga, Léa Siliki, Bourigaud, Terrier; Guirassy